As we are all living in the midst of a world pandemic with COVID-19, safety is our first priority. At Bold Blind Beauty, bringing you information that will allow you to be better equipped as you move about in the midst of this world crisis is our goal. Here is where you will find insights and tips to gain awareness regarding your day-to-day routine. Bold Blind Beauty cares about all of you enough to share, so please feel free to do the same. We are all in this together as one world community.
Bold Blind Beauty is thrilled to share with you snippets from Becky Andrews’new book “Cultivating our Resilience Workbook/Journal.” Adversity strengthens and builds resilience; Becky will share weekly practices to help us become more resilient. ~Steph
Right now, we are individually and collectively experiencing interesting times with the pandemic. Collective grief, ambiguous losses, anticipatory grief, increased uncertainty are all part of our world each in our own unique ways. It is calling each of us to cultivate our resilience as we keep moving forward and take the pauses necessary that can bring gifts.
In this series, we will talk about some practices that can help us Cultivate our Resilience.
This quote encompasses a key foundation of resilience: to know that challenging times are part of our journey. We will all experience adversity and difficulty in this life. We are not alone. This common humanity and understanding is a foundation of resilience. It leads us to place of surrender and growth while honoring our journey.
What Is Resilience?
It is that capacity to reach down to our core and find hope amongst the difficult times. It is the capacity to navigate those difficult times that stretch us and in time to be transformed and grow from the experience.
To cultivate our resilience means it is an action. It gives us hope to know that we can continue to cultivate – dig, nurture, create further resilience. The picture in the header represents resilience to me. It is a flower in the crack of the pavement. What effort it must take to find roots and nourishment to spring forward and bloom in this condition.
Take a moment to reflect on a difficult time in your life. What strengths inside you got through that difficult time?
What is an example of a resilient person to you? What attributes do you admire about them?
Resilience is a learned ability and we can acquire the skills at any time in our life. Resilient people are beautiful people.
Resilience creates courage, kindness, and wisdom. So, how do we cultivate our resilience? Similar to digging in the dirt and cultivating a garden. We cultivate by focusing in on that aspect, careful attention, devoting time, and thought to the practice. So, cultivating our resilience takes some time, effort, and patience with ourselves in the process.
As we start this series, we are collectively experiencing a challenging time as individuals, families, communities, countries, and our world. This has impacted us all on varying levels with increased anxiety, stress, uncertainties to our health – financial stability, grief, and losses. And, most likely on top of that, you are facing additional challenges in your life.
Take a moment and acknowledge what your specific challenge(s) are that you are experiencing right now. As Mr. Rogers says:
We are going to offer 8 practices in this series, that can help us cultivate our resilience as we navigate those challenging times.
Give yourself permission to feel. Find healthy ways to process your feelings. Start this week to ask yourself how am I feeling? What do I need right now?
This is our first step in this process to honor our feelings without judgment – to notice, name the feeling, accept and then choose a possible action.
This week find a quiet space each day to record your feelings. We will return next week to check-in and share resilient practice two.
Becky is offering her Cultivate your resilience courses via zoom for $25/6 week group. She will cover all the practices in this zoom course. Email her for details on the next course: email@example.com
It was 25 years or so and I was a young mom sitting on our front porch. It was a summer morning and I had just learned Orientation and Mobility Training. Yet this morning, my first thought wasn’t the newfound freedom I had felt with the cane. I was experiencing the grief and needed to take a pause and experience all the feels that went with that.
Look up, move forward
Let me introduce myself, my name is Becky Andrews. I am blind as a result of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) diagnosed at age 18. I have been blessed to travel with a guide dog by my side for the past 23 years. As I type this, my third guide dog, Georgie is at my feet. My husband, Steve, and I have been married for 36 years (we are a pretty great team) and we have two adult children. I love living an active life. We love to tandem bike… more on that to come, run with a tether – have run 9 marathons with the tenth to be the NYC Marathon again in November. I also love to hike and travel. I wrote my memoir, Look up, move forward in June 2016. Currently, I am working on completing a workbook: Cultivate Resilience – one of many courses that I teach in my practice.
On a professional level, I am a small business owner – Resilient Solutions, Inc. A licensed clinical mental health counselor myself, the practice is an individual, marriage, and family therapy, business which employs 18. Five years ago, we established a small nonprofit Oasis Center for Hope with its mission to educate, support, and empower individuals, families, and communities experiencing a loss. As a part of this nonprofit, four years ago I fulfilled a dream to establish retreats for women who are blind and low vision — The Daring to Own Your Story™ Retreats. Our 8th Retreat is scheduled to be held this July. These retreats are a combination of adventure, connection, empowerment, and truly owning and celebrating our stories.
When Saying ‘Yes’ To Life Is Suspended
At the time of the pandemic, Steve, and I were into a bucket list goal – cycling across the country on our tandem bike. It began on March 7, we put our back tire in the Pacific Ocean in San Diego and were scheduled to put the front tire in the Atlantic Ocean 52 days later April 27 – the day before Steve’s birthday. We put our careers on hold as much as possible for this endeavor. This time of cycling through the country was anticipated to not only be an amazing physical feat yet also further clarity on where else to put the energy of YESSS in my life.
As we began this journey our tour began to give us updates on what was happening in our world and we continued to take the necessary precautions also very aware as schools, stores, campsites, and hotels were closing around us. On March 17 which was a day of a lot of climbing, almost to the continental divide and 571 miles into the ride, we arrived in Tombstone, Arizona. It was on this evening we learned that our bucket list item was to be suspended. Although we understood, we were so disappointed. The hotel shut its doors after we checked out.
I’ve now had a month to reflect on this disappointment since being home while quickly needing to bring our office up to speed on Telehealth Therapy. Because I wasn’t scheduled to see clients until May 4 with our bike ride, I’ve also had some time to study, learn, ponder, reflect, and offer courses to individuals throughout the country on Cultivating our Resilience.
Getting Through The Pain
This is such a unique time for us all. It is a time of uncertainty, collective grief, ambiguous losses, and anticipatory grief. I am feeling such compassion for those who are suffering at this time and experiencing such grief. As of writing this post, our family is healthy and all employed of which I am so very grateful. I also recognize that this could change. So many are hurting. As I search to find ways to make a difference, I think of the message: Do what you can with what you have where you are.
It is also a powerful time to take a pause and reflect on what is important to us, what we are grateful for and what we want to bring back into our lives after we return to our sense of new normal. I have found myself taking many pauses and reflecting deeply on these questions.
Up to this point, there has been much drive, hard work, perseverance in achieving my dreams as a blind woman. I know firsthand discrimination, access denial, and the extra effort it takes to reach those goals. There have been times where a ride to the office on Lyft may entail access denial with my guide dog leading to a phone call to the corporate office and extra advocacy to follow up before summoning another ride and getting to the office or a follow up later. I also believe my journey that has occurred through RP has been one of growth, learning, resilience and so much joy. It has given me a depth and compassion that I wouldn’t trade. This quote resonates with me and I’m grateful for the beauty that has been added by this journey.
The Power Of Choice
My journey in the past several years has been about movement, growth, reaching for that next goal, some pretty remarkable awards, professional expansions, and many adventures. So very grateful.
However, in the past month since returning home from this bike ride with this significant pause in our lives, my thoughts have turned to another significant day.
It was 25 years or so and I was a young mom sitting on our front porch. It was a summer morning and I had just learned Orientation and Mobility Training. Yet this morning, my first thought wasn’t the newfound freedom I had felt with the cane. I was experiencing the grief and needed to take a pause and experience all the feels that went with that. After some time on the porch doing some reflection and shedding a few tears and reassuring my husband, I would be okay, he could leave for work.
I took that next step that Victor Frankl describes as: “The last of all human freedoms the power to choose one’s own way given any set of circumstances.” I chose to once again feel empowered, to see RP as an opportunity to grow and have new adventures. I got up from the front porch morning of grief and went inside. I told my kids we were going on an adventure on the bus to meet dad for lunch.
Feeling The Feelings
During this past month, as I have returned home and resumed meeting with clients a common theme has emerged: grief and loss yet also gratitude and gains. We are experiencing grief in various ways. My words have been consistent with clients. Give yourself permission to feel. Honor the feelings you are experiencing and give them the space they need to process with self-compassion. Only then can you take that next step to action. As much as we want to we can’t bypass this step in our journey to Look up, move forward.
In this time of pause of feeling, there is much duality of emotions — both loss and such deep gratitude. Both clarity of what matters and missing events that kept me busy. Both simplicity and comfy sweats and missing dressing up and hustling into work. Both intense compassion for those around us and uncertainty for our own situations.
I’m having some clarity of what is next for me as I Look up and move forward. I have loved having the opportunity to speak to large and small groups, that will look different in the months to come. I just accepted my first Conference Presentation by Zoom. I have loved teaching my Cultivate Resilience Courses to people throughout the country by Zoom. Again, a unique, new experience. I dream of doing a podcast and simply asking the question tell me your story. Let’s dare to own it and share it with others. We can learn so much from others. I look forward to continuing to manage our business, expand and plan more retreats as soon as we are once again able to travel, and continue to meet with clients individually. The journey with a client as they navigate life’s losses, traumas, and find their resilience is inspiring.
All in all, my next step, I hope, is to reach back and help someone along their journey. So many have been there for me along my journey. When I was denied a position that was promised to me over the phone when he realized I was blind, a mentor picked me up and helped me navigate the private practice field. When I was denied access to a grocery store because of my guide dog, a mentor helped me navigate and taught me to advocate for myself. Others reminded me I could do it and helped me instill that in myself.
In life, we simply keep looking up and moving forward a step at a time; perhaps a pedal at a time. Sometimes bucket lists are suspended and other insights, lessons learned, come in the pause.
What has happened in my life since that first cover on Bold Blind Beauty Magazine where I was climbing to the top of a challenge course? Oh, so much growth, learning, expansion both externally and internally. So grateful for the power of the stretch and for the opportunities to continue to Look up and move forward.
Header Image: Scrabble tiles spelling out the word ‘resiliency.’
Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune L-R: Suzette Hirst, Becky Andrews, and Brenda Petersen. Hirst and Peterson ran as Becky’s guide in the Boston Marathon, and take turns guiding her, nearly everyday, as they run in their Bountiful neighborhood. Friday, July 23, 2015.
The Journey Begins: Becky and Steve in matching tops are standing with their tandem with back tire in the Pacific Ocean before a climb to Alpine, CA. Day one 42 miles.
Climb to Tombstone, AZ: Steve and Becky are on their tandem in their biking gear. A mountain range can be seen in the background.
Becky is sitting on outdoor steps next to her guide dog, Georgie, a gorgeous yellow lab.
OOTD short for “outfit of the day” is a well-known fashion abbreviation or hashtag. We considered using a similar tactic with CoVid-19 but thought“C-19TOTD” might be a bit over the top. In view of this dilemma, we settled for TOTD (tip of the day) following ‘CoVid-19.’ Our newest contributor, Cheryl Minnette, recently featured as a Woman On The Move in Beyond Sight Magazine will share some of her tips and insights with our readers. Thank you Cheryl! ~Steph
Here at Bold Blind Beauty, our goal is for you to enjoy life, but be well while doing it. During #CoVid-19 we want to assist you with that, So here is our CoVid-19 Tip of the day.
As we go out and about, then return home, even if we wore gloves, ‘Are we SAFE?’ Maybe not if you forget about this. Most of us navigate with our subconscious mind, so at times we forget about the smallest details, like our keys!
We have become so accustomed to grabbing, tossing, and using our keys without a thought, but it’s time to think about sanitizing them. #CoVid-19 can live on the metal surface of our keys. As you continually touch and relocate them, you can be transferring the coronavirus to other places.
What precautions can be taken?
Be mindful of where you place your keys during use and non-use. At home, designate a spot for them.
When you come inside and wash your hands, wash your keys, also
Spread keys out on an appropriate surface and spray them with a virus-killing disinfectant spray, like Lysol. Allow to air dry.
Wipe keys down with a virus-killing disinfectant wipe, like Clorox wipes. Allow to air dry.
Do not rest keys on surfaces when out, such as tables, counters, shelves, etc.
In order to stay safe, we must know and understand the process.
As a highly sensitive introvert, one would think ‘physical distancing’ would be heaven right about now, right? Wrong! Allow me to elaborate.
For those who don’t know me very well, I’m an anxious and quirky person full of phobias, rules, and overthinking. Take elevators for example, whenever I get on one I try to prepare for how I’d react if it got stuck. In my imagination, I’m the calm, unflappable, take-charge type but I know the reality would be totally different. In reality, I’d be on the floor in the corner, rocking back and forth, sobbing and hyperventilating. I’m so fearful of being stuck on an elevator I’ve jumped off when too many people try to squeeze in. Honestly, doesn’t anyone care about weight restrictions?
Then there are microbes. Microscopic anything, especially germs, sends me straight over the edge. Heck, when I learned dust mites existed I had nightmares for years; seriously, some things are best unknown. Obsessive hand washing has been my norm for as long as I can remember. So imagine my distress when a global call was broadcasted telling everyone to wash (I mean, really, really wash) their hands—EEWWW! And don’t even get me started on cell phones and bathroom stalls—I just can’t! The more important question however is, what were people doing before the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak? Nope! I take that back I don’t want to know.
Even though I avoid germs like the plague (granted I probably coulda used a better reference here), I contracted H1N1. Yup, the same year I was declared legally blind I caught swine flu. The odd thing here is no one else in my inner circle, including family, friends, and co-workers, caught it.
On Physical Distancing & Social Isolation
If being an introvert weren’t enough, here we are in the midst of a global pandemic and I’m beside myself, literally. Social isolation isn’t anything new for me because this is my comfort zone! But here’s the thing, when all of my neighbors are also safe at home it sort of defeats the whole purpose. Not to mention the anxiety-inducing walking of the dog or checking for my mail. My preference would be for my dog to check the mail while walking herself but she’s a little diva. Then there’s my brother.
I never thought I’d see the benefit in my brother’s passenger car door not working until now. While we aren’t six feet apart as I ride in the backseat, I’m lovin’ it! That is until he asked me: “do you need to stop by the grocery store?” Now keep in mind, I live alone and my sons have been great at physical distancing-thank heavens. Even though I’m an H1N1 survivor, asthmatic with hypertension my brother seriously asked if I needed to go to the store. So against my better judgment, of course, I said yes, I needed groceries! When all I really wanted to do was to go home or at the very least sport a blinged-out hazmat suit.
Here I was with my white cane trying to keep up with my brother wishing like hell I was anywhere else. Then the unimaginable happened; I lost him. I must have been looking quite disoriented because this older gentleman asked me if I needed help. Choking back tears all I could think was ‘please step away’ but I held my composure. Eventually, my brother came to my rescue and all was right with the world, well, almost.
One Heck Of A Pickle
In life as far as pickles go, this pandemic is off the charts. Going through a pandemic as a germaphobe introvert with sight loss is extraordinary. Before sight loss I went to great lengths to avoid invisible threats, barely stopping short of ordering a personalized glass bubble. Who am I kidding? A glass bubble wouldn’t work well with claustrophobia—Duh!
Seriously though, when you rely on navigating the world through touch, sight loss during a pandemic is extremely difficult. I’ve been more aware of my sense of touch, my sight loss, and germs since the beginning of the outbreak. Hyper-awareness comes with the territory when you lose your sight, thus making physical distancing an additional burden. From the time I wake until I go to sleep at the end of the day, I’m always ON which triggers my anxiety. When I’m safe at home these anxiety levels, for the most part, are bearable. However, the moment I go outside just to walk the dog, my internal alarms are activated.
If managing sight loss, germophobia, and physical distancing weren’t enough, try doing it as an introvert. I’ve always needed my space and now more than ever I’ve had to put in place additional boundaries. Since most people rely solely on communicating virtually, I feel sort of trapped and have to shut down mentally and physically. It seems like I need to recharge my batteries more frequently which leaves me feeling a great amount of shame.
A Rock And A Hard Place
You know the feeling you get when you’re on the top of your game? Well, the feeling I have right now is the exact opposite. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I think the appropriate terminology is “rock bottom.” Yes, I’m feeling a heaviness, scared, overwhelmed, powerless, and my thoughts are so chaotic I think I’m losing it. The mere action of typing these words provides some relief because I’m acknowledging my vulnerability. Now is not the time to pretend I’ve got it all figured out. Truth is I don’t and I’m more than sure I’m not alone.
Last week was particularly difficult and it wasn’t until I read one of my favorite blogs that I understood why. I was wearing shame like a blanket and once I was able to name it the clouds began to clear. This “stuck between floors” feeling may last through the entirety of this epidemic and I understand it’s natural to feel some angst.
I’ve been cycling between the basement and the top floor really since before the outbreak. The important thing for me is to keep things in perspective. Fear won’t solve anything and, when I can, the way I combat it is to practice being present. Some days I don’t have the energy to wrestle with my feelings so I give myself permission not to.
Owning & Respecting The Pandemic Journey
What I find helpful is respecting other people’s personal journey especially through these extraordinary times. A friend of mine put it this way: “We are not all going through this together but we can be there for each other.” We have to be mindful that everyone isn’t experiencing this global event the same way. Remembering our humanity by exhibiting kindness, compassion, and patience will help ease our burdens.
Enjoy the little things because it’s our moments that matter most. All we have is right now and we can choose how we will spend it. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. If you need some helpful tips about COVID-19 Abby recently shared this post: Navigating The Coronavirus Turmoil In Kindness.
A photo of a woman behind a frosted glass wall. Her face and body can barely be seen however her hands are braced against the wall like she’s trapped.